Tag Archives: retina

Retina MacBook Pro Screen Pageant

In response to a Very Sensible Request From A Fellow On Twitter, here’s a series of screenshots that shows off the Retina MacBook’s five screen settings.

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(Click to get the full-rez image from Flickr.)

Here’s the default/”Best” setting. It approximates the real estate of a conventional 15″ MacBook Pro. Lovely.

Note the difference between Retina and non-Retina-optimization. Safari is optimized; the text is crisp and gorgeous. Pages isn’t; if you look carefully, you can see the anti-aliasing of low-res text.

Similarly, compare the Aperture thumbnail window with the doggie in the Safari window. Aperture is optimized; you can see lots of detail in Mr. Squirrel’s fur. The website serves a conventional web-ready image; you can’t see much detail in Doggie’s nose.

Onward to the…hey, is Apple saying that all of these other settings are “Worse”? What the hell, man?!?



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This is the “Larger Text” setting, for folks who have poor vision or are simply nostalgic for 2001-era laptops. It mimics a 1024×640 display.

Aha! Note that the OS scales the text to the correct height relative to the size of the screen BUT it’s still rendered at 220 ppi. At least in the optimized apps. The text in Pages still looks a bit trashy.

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The equivalent of 1280×800.

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1680-ish by 1050-ish.

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And if you don’t care so much about The Stunning Retina-Quality Graphics and you just want to have the largest desktop you can get, there’s the final “Screenus Maximus” mode: 1920×1200.

Note that this is still under the Retina MacBook’s maximum true resolution of 2880 by 1800. So optimized apps will always, always, always look better than non-optimized ones.

Yes, I see a hand raised at the back?

Ah. Well, I don’t actually have a projector here in the office. But I plugged it into the next best thing: a monitor that supports 1920×1080 resolution. I hooked it up via VGA, the way you’ll probably do it in a conference room.

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As soon as the Retina MacBook senses that it’s been plugged into an external display, it dispenses with the “I know this is a Retina display”-optimized version of the “Displays” system pref box and returns to what you’d see on a conventional Mac.

There are two “Figure it out for me” settings: tell the Mac to use the optimal Retina layout (similar to the “Best” size/setting), or do what the screen thinks is best, or do what the Mac thinks is best. Or, you can click the “Scaled” option and force a certain resolution. Before I made a choice, the screen auto-synced to its maximum resolution. No problems.

How’s it look? Pretty good. My Samsung monitor has a lower maximum resolution than the Retina MacBook — cripes, don’t they all? — but even in “Best for Retina Display” mode I could easily tell the difference between crisp Safari text and the aliased Pages text.

MacBook Pro with Retina Display: Retina on Retina

Screenshot of Aperture on Retina Mac display...you can see me reflected in the doggie's eye.

This mini-review on the Sun-Times site amounts to an outline of the full review I’ll be posting on Monday. It’s the best Mac Apple’s ever made. Which isn’t to say it’s for everyone. And I said in the review that most Mac users don’t care enough about onboard Ethernet and future expandability that it’s a debilitating issue. Which isn’t to say that those shouldn’t be considered faults. But yes, if my editor and I are eager to get something of value up on the site and in print before the week is out, and I try to put everything in 600 words, then this is a review I can stand behind.

Now I’m playing with the new edition of Aperture. This is the sort of app that underscores the real point of the Retina Mac display. The purpose of the 220 ppi screen isn’t to show more pixels. It’s to show more information. Photo work is terrific. Thumbnails are so dense that you feel like you can truly pick out the winners in a sequence of photos without having to maximize each and every one of them individually.

It’s so good that yup, when you do go maximum, it’s immediately clear that the little shadow inside a dog’s eye is actually a self-portrait of the photographer. Click and look closely…you can see my hat and everything.

Anyway. Tune back in on Monday for greater verbosity.

Retina MacBook Pro – Five First Impressions

I had to get up way before 10 AM to make sure I was available to sign for the package, but boy, was it worth it! My review unit of the new retina MacBook arrived today.

A full review will appear in the Sun-Times shortly. But here are an arbitrary five first impressions:

  • The first thing I noticed was how much lighter it felt than the 15″ MacBook Pro I bought last year. I have plenty of experience toting that thing around the house and it truly feels like what my MacBook would weigh if it had no screen.
  • It doesn’t feel as slim or tiny as you might think. It’s still a full-sized 15″ notebook, after all. If the new MacBook were just as thick as the old one, I could have handled that without losing my **** over it, is that I’m saying.
  • No hardware battery indicator. Bummer. As I always do when I unbox loaner hardware, I parsed the question “Do I need to hook this up to AC for a few hours, or can I start rock-and-rolling with it right away?” Instinctively I looked for a little button on the side and a line of dots.
  • It’s been a while since I set up a brand-new Mac. I was surprised that I needed to enter my AppleID credentials so many times in the first ten minutes. It feels like this should be a keynote demo that starts with Craig Federighi entering in an ID and a password, waiting for three beats, and then saying “…Boom. Done.”
  • The Retina display has a subtle initial impact. It looks exactly like my 15″ display…just, better. The first thing I really noticed was that the familiar tuxedo icon representing the setup wizard had a tabbed collar and onyx shirt studs. Subtle but impressive. For a dramatic example of the improvement, start browsing the web. Bitmapped images (rendered at traditional pixel density) look like utter trash alongside the Retina-quality text that flows around it. Naturally, the images on Apple.com are juiced for Retina.

More later.

[Later: based on some reactions on Twitter from web developers who read my “utter trash” observation and then yanked that length of flexible ducting out of the laundry room and headed out to the garage with it, along with their car keys and a hastily-scrawled not, I should probably clarify what I meant. I was just speaking casually. It’s more accurate to say that whereas the improvement in display resolution isn’t immediately obvious in a Finder window, it’s pretty glaring in a webpage. It’s a bit like how you thought your vision was perfectly fine until you got an eye exam and realized just how many more lines of the eye chart there were.

I do wonder how the arrival of this new MacBook is going to effect web design. Designers want things to look great. Are they going to build Retina-optimized and non-Retina-optimized versions of everything they publish? I dunno. But I hope that any designer clever enough to mprove their site with higher-density graphics will also be clever enough not to push those high-bandwidth images to hardware that can’t do anything productive with them.]